Two Years Later

I can’t sleep tonight and the need to write is strong. I have a feeling that this might be my last blog post on a Life in a Slightly Soiled Chair. There is a new blog taking shape in my heart and in my mind, but I am unable to describe it for you at the moment. This new chapter in my life and my writing is still taking shape and in all honesty, I don’t think I will know what it is until I start to write it. It has been exactly two years since Howard passed away and my world crumbled and I think this last post needs to be a letter to him but I have decided to share it with you. For some reason I think that if I put this out there, it will travel to all the corners of the universe and Howard will read it somewhere, somehow.

Hi Howard, it has been two years since you left this earth and sometimes it feels like yesterday and at other times it seems like centuries. I still miss you and think I always will. You know that I don’t remember dates for anything, all that well, but I think that my heart and body remember on a cellular level the moment that you left. I am not the same person, your life changed me and your death changed me again. I would not alter one moment of our life together, but I would trade everything to change the end of it for you. Oh yeah, I would like a redo on the day our house was raided and we were arrested, yup, I would change that. That was a crazy day and I am still convinced that they had the wrong house regardless of what the paperwork said. All they had to do was look at the dead plants on the deck to realize that I couldn’t grow a potted plant let alone a pot plant. We had the last laugh on that one, didn’t we!

I did plant a garden from seeds this year, but you already know that. This garden turned out much better than the year I decided to plant one in our backyard. Even the raven sitting on the pagoda laughed at my attempt to garden. I remember that you came out of the shop and asked, “Did that raven just laugh at you?” I managed to keep most of this one alive, with some help, and have had some wonderful meals with the vegetables from it. You remember how much I love bok choy? Well, apparently the deer love it more because I did not get to eat any of it. I did have an abundance of radishes. Deer do not eat radishes. Who knew? I tried to feed some to the cow Oatsie, but she didn’t want them either. Note to self, do not plant that many radishes ever again.

Yesterday I was in a friends store and saw some spirit bells. I was fascinated with these bells and took one home with me. I just could not keep this bell out of my hands and jiggled it around the whole time I was in the store. After I got home I remembered that in the last few weeks of your life you said you would ring bells. I gave you a bell beside your bed when you couldn’t get up by yourself so if you needed me I would hear it. Did you know that I slept with that bell beside my bed for months after you passed away waiting for you to ring it? I had a dream last night that I woke up and it was the exact moment that you passed away. All those emotions rose up in me like a huge wave threatening to drown me and you in spirit form kissed my head and told me it was okay. You also said a few other things and I went back to sleep feeling peaceful and loved.

I miss talking to you and sometimes have conversations with you in my head. I would talk to you out loud, but people already think I’m a little odd. Once in a while, I feel your presence and an image of you pops into my head. You always have a huge smile on your face and that light in your eyes that you always had when you were up to something. I loved that face. I keep thinking about your hands for some reason. They were large sturdy hands that were always covered in cuts and scrapes. Your hands were always busy sculpting, fixing, welding, weeding, cooking or petting a dog. Those large calloused hands were also gentle and I don’t think I ever felt safe in my life until you held my face in your hands and kissed me. I don’t think I ever felt safe or loved in my life until I met you.

There are so many things I want to tell you. I also believe that you already know everything that is in my heart. There is a space in my heart that will never be filled. One thing you did teach me is that our hearts are big and I can keep that space for you and still have enough room for other people. I took a risk last year and have someone new in my life. He too is teaching me much about love and life. He challenges me sometimes, makes me laugh constantly and encourages me to try new things and grow. We have a great group of friends and get together regularly at the pub or in our kitchen, which is filled with food, love and laughter. We both believe that you set the stage for us to get together when you sold him my raven sculpture. I remember how excited you were with the trade the two of you made. He also has a big heart and since the two of you were friends there is a place in his heart for you as well. We have the first sculpture you made called Victorious ( I affectionately call her Booba) and the last one you finished, the rhino, in our yard. The raven you sold him sits on top of the gatepost at the end of the driveway and when I moved in we put the second raven that you made for me on the other gatepost. I always think of them and you watching over us and protecting us. We also have the gorilla sculpture peering out of the bamboo. That was my favorite of all your sculptures even though I teased you about becoming a gorilla while you were creating it.

I want you to know that I am happy in my new life. Shawn and I are having many adventures together and in some way take a part of you with us on each of them. We took your toolbox with us when we went to Bonneville this year and God knows we could have used your mechanical skills while we were there. The racing did not go as well as expected. It was still an amazing trip though because of the people we met and old friends we got to see again. That is the most important thing anyway, the people in our lives. I am so glad that I got to be part of your life and hope I brought some joy and laughter to yours. I do know that some of my crazy antics brought some comic relief and I can still see you looking at me and shaking your head with that what am I going to do with her expression on your face. We had a few hard times and we had many more great times. Howard, you were an amazing man and the thing that amazed me the most was that you loved me. You loved me so much that I can still feel it.

Love the people in your life
Hug each other and laugh over the stupid stuff
Donna

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Grief Part 682

I will start this post by saying that I am no expert when it comes to grief. I have danced with grief a number of times from a young age to today, at 54 years of age. I say dance with it because grief has a rhythm to it that moves you. I have experienced the death of two grandparents, a number of friends, my baby girl, both my parents, my older brother and finally the man I loved and lived with for twelve years. Each experience was different and each person’s death brought about a change within me. Howard’s passing happened Sept 15th, 2015 and I have to say that his presence in my life and his exit from it has changed me in ways no other experience has. Howard’s life and death had a profound effect on me and in some ways I am still discovering what those are. I will tell you that the grief never ends but it changes over time and becomes more of a slow heart warming waltz instead of a heart racing paso doble that spins you around and shakes your world. Grief changes you and grief changes.

I am one of those people who cries when I am happy and laughs when I am sad. This is not to say that I do not cry when I am sad. Howard’s death brought me to my knees, but I did not cry, I wailed a deep soul shattering sob that robbed me of breath and thought. I would cry myself to sleep at night and when I woke up in the morning for just a moment I would forget that he was gone and then the sobbing would begin as reality came into focus again. I cried at the grocery store, I sobbed in my car and had to leave a few places, (the bank for one) when my emotions overtook me. I wouldn’t change a minute of the grief. It was heartbreaking but it was also heart opening. I do not see the world in the same way, my vision is clearer because I see with my heart, not my eyes. So a year and a half later something will catch me by surprise and the loss of him will overwhelm me. I was visiting the hair salon that I frequent a few weeks ago and a song came on the radio there that had special meaning to me and Howard and the tears started flowing. This is a song by Shawn Mendes called “Never Be Alone” and here are some of the lyrics:

I promise that one day I’ll be around
I’ll keep you safe
I’ll keep you sound
Right now it’s pretty crazy
And I don’t know how to stop
Or slow it down
Hey
I know there are some things we need to talk about
And I can’t stay
Just let me hold you for a little longer now
Take a piece of my heart
And make it all your own
So when we are apart
You’ll never be alone
You’ll never be alone
You’ll never be alone
When you miss me close your eyes
I may be far but never gone
When you fall asleep tonight
Just remember that we lay under the same stars
And hey
I know there are some things we need to talk about
And I can’t stay
Just let me hold you for a little longer now

Howard passed this song on to me through a friend who is a medium. This happened while he was still alive but could not talk much. He did manage to say a lot to my friend in spirit while he was still alive even though they did not really know each other well. He chose his words sparingly at this point and did not waste his energy. Well, I played the song as Howard lay in his bed in our living room, while a few friends were visiting, Howard had his eyes closed with a big smile on his face and his toes were dancing to the music while the rest of us had tears streaming down our faces. After Howard was gone every time I started my car (for a few weeks) this song would be on the radio, it was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It made me cry and reminded me that I am never alone.

So, here I am early in the morning finishing a post that I started over 4 months ago. I want you to know that I still miss him and think about him every day. I also want you to know that some days I still struggle to find my place in this new life I have created. Sometimes I still struggle. Howard’s artwork graces the yard and walls of the new home I share with Shawn the new amazing man in my life. He has brought much joy and laughter to my life. He loves me, he challenges me and encourages me to dream and grow. But, grief is a funny thing and I don’t think it ever goes away or is something you can overcome. I believe that it is always there, always a part of you. Grief changes you and grief changes you again, but your dance with it also changes the grief.
Now, it is not so much about the loss of Howard in my life, but the end of the life that Howard had cut short when he was just beginning to blossom as an artist and had found something he was so passionate about.

I believe that I have a difficult time finishing this post simply because there is no end to this story. Nor can I sum it all up and leave you with a something to think about. This is just a snapshot of day 682 of grief.

Be kind
Love ya
Donna

No Strings

I am sitting once again in my slightly soiled chair with a coffee beside me in my sunny yellow mug. It is five thirty in the morning and the birds are singing the sun up with cheerful little songs. It has all the makings of a wonderful day even though I have only had about four hours sleep. I had trouble settling down last night. There were a few things weighing on my mind and my heart. I have started making plans and dreaming and low and behold the universe throws a few curve balls at me just to see if I am paying attention and waits to see how I will handle it.

Have you ever had one of those moments where certain events in your life become clear in their meaning. I had one of those moments last night and I have to admit that it scared me a little. Actually my response was “well shit.” It reminded me that certain things are beyond my control. I can say I want this, I don’t want that till the cows come home and the universe in its wisdom will give me what I need. I never expected to fall in love with my life again, I never expected to feel or experience so much joy and peace again. Some of the best moments of my life have happened when I was not expecting it.

So I had a moment of clarity and it scared me. I am not sure scared is the right word. Perhaps it is more being unsure with a tiny bit of fear thrown in. I don’t know where this path will lead but I trust in the universe to guide me along and in the meantime will set the fear aside. No one knows what tomorrow will bring but I have had a few visions of the future and they do not coincide with what I thought I wanted. Perhaps there is a lesson in that. Do not be so tied to what you want and don’t want that you miss the wonderful people and opportunities right in front of you. Be flexible with your how your mind and heart respond to the events and people in your life. Be teachable.

I have ideas about how I would like things to be and have expressed a large number of those ideas on this blog. One thing that I do know for certain is that as long as I let my heart rule over my mind life is as it should be. The minute I start over thinking things and second guessing every decision, fears settles in and my mind gains control. Fear versus love the eternal struggle for control. So the universe is putting people and situations in my path to see if I can actually live what I say. Anyone can say anything, but can they back it up with action. The universe is saying enough talk Donna lets see some action.

So, I have said numerous times that it is all about living with your heart wide open. But what does that really mean to me? It is about others not about me. For one of the first times in my life, I have led a very self-centered life up to this point, the happiness of others comes before my own. I want the people around me to know what it means to be loved for just being them, no strings attached. I want to bring peace and joy with me everywhere I go and spread that around. I want the people in my life to know that they are appreciated and that I truly see them for who they are and that they are more than enough. I thought I knew what love was. The universe has shown me lately that I have only danced around the edges of it in the past. Well shit!

Have a bliss filled day
Hug people
Donna

Friends with Benefits

I was so overwhelmed by loneliness yesterday it was, well, overwhelming. I don’t think I have ever felt this lonely in my life! I tried just sitting with it and exploring it and made it to 9pm and then reached out to a friend. We talked about a number of things but I didn’t mention the lonely part. Why wasn’t I willing to just say I was lonely? Perhaps I didn’t want to appear needy? I need people and the connections with others and am tired of doing most things alone. One of the things I have discovered on this twisted path of learning is, there is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. So what is the difference? One is focused inward and one is focused outward. Much of our lives are focused outward and we are disconnected from ourselves. Now that is lonely!

Some people would give anything for sometime by themselves. When they get it what do they do with it? I don’t know, even when I am in a relationship I spend a lot of time by myself. I read, create things, talk to friends, listen to music, go for a walk and putter. I like to putter, it helps me think. No one likes people who are self-centred right? I think we need to be centred in ourselves, subtle difference but huge at the same time. Instead we are constantly distracted by things, always entertaining ourselves and looking for answers out there. We know the answers already, we just need to be self-centred in order to see them. So instead of viewing the term self-centred in the negative sense of a person who shows no concern for others and is only interested in their own wants and needs, let’s redefine it as someone who is centred in themselves. We can use self-absorbed for the negative aspect.

So you don’t want to be self-absorbed but you do want to be self-centred! If you are centred, some would say grounded, it means you are aware of yourself and the world around you. You can see the interactions for what they are. You are not trying to constantly distract yourself from yourself. Back to last night, what is it I did not want to look at internally that had me reaching outside of myself and had me feeling terribly lonely. I want to matter! I want to matter to someone else! I don’t want to be an afterthought for them. I want to be a priority in their lives. First, I have to be in that relationship with myself. I need to matter and be a priority in my own life! So in order to have that I need to be present and if I am constantly looking for distractions that cannot happen.

Our society is a sad sad world of distractions and disconnections. We spend so much time looking outwards and expecting others to meet our needs it is no wonder there are so many divorces and unhappy relationships. They cannot fix you or any other part of your life! Only you can fix you and your life by doing the work and being centred in self. You are not going to find the relationship you want until you are able to have that relationship with yourself. So stop looking outside yourself for the answers. The next significant person in your life is not the answer to your problems and it is extremely unfair to expect that of them. So before you enter into any relationship ask yourself why. Why do I want to be with them? What am I expecting them to provide me with that I can’t provide for myself?

My ideal relationship, which I have touched on before, still gives me lots of time to be by myself. I am not looking for someone to be the solution to my troubles. I don’t need someone to be my other half, I am already whole. I want someone that I can talk to, travel with, be intimate with, laugh with and grow together and separately with. Basically I want a friend with benefits who doesn’t “need” me in their life but “wants”me in their life and challenges me to be a better person. I also want to challenge them to be all that they can be, I don’t need or want to change them, they are already whole.
Don’t forget to hug

Love to you all

Donna

Wings and Things

I was going to take the day off and then it got filled up with things to do. I am busier now that I am no longer working and wonder how I ever got anything done when I had a business and a full time job. I guess now my time is filled with things I want to do. Lunch with friends, long walks, phone calls with friends and family who don’t live close by and time to just breathe. Getting geared up to move and selling most of my material possessions is an interesting and some times strange experience. I have a difficult time putting a value on material items. I apparently do not have a talent for dickering, they ask what I would like for it and because of my previously mentioned difficulty I just ask what they would like to pay. If the offer is reasonable I’ll accept it. This throws people off and gives me much amusement when they feel the need to explain or justify their offer. I also like to just give things away! So as I go through each room there is a must pack, a must sell and a donate pile. I also have a cannot decide what to do with this pile. Make me an offer on that pile would you please . My house looks like a war zone.

There is something about decluttering and moving that brings a sense of freedom and clarity. A new home and some new furniture mixed in with the pieces I love. The hardest thing for me to pare down is the artwork. Each piece has strong emotional significance for me. Some pieces I have bought or inherited and then there are Howard’s sculptures. I have decided on two pieces of his, the raven that he made for me and a sculpture called the peaceful warrior. A picture of the warrior is at the top of the page and it is made out of chrome bumpers from antique cars that were no longer usable. Howard was into recycling in a grand way. Interestingly, whenever Howard did a warrior piece they were always female, I loved that about him. This piece is not small so I have no idea where it will fit but I cannot leave it behind. Perhaps it will live in my meditation room, I shall see.

Back to decluttering. What a huge job! It amazes me that a person who really isn’t materialistic can accumulate so much stuff. One thing is for certain I have a penchant for home made soap. Going through the bathroom cupboard revealed 21 bars of soap! I have enough soap to last me almost a whole year! Note to self do not buy anymore soap, toilet paper, laundry detergent, olive oil or coconut milk until I am out of them. Seven cans of coconut milk, really! I stop at the store without my list which is still sitting on the kitchen table ( I make lots of lists then forget to take them with me) and then I can’t remember what I have, so I buy more. You run out of anything call me! Except sugar or cow’s milk, I don’t have either in my house. I also own every kitchen gadget known to mankind. So if I haven’t used it in the last year out it goes. The only thing I do not own at the moment is a coffee grinder, it died a tragic and noisy death last month. So if anyone has bought me a gift in the last few years you may see it at my garage sale and please do not get upset. I am downsizing, it is not a reflection on you, your gift or our relationship.

The important things cannot be packed. The magnolia tree Howard bought me for our first Valentine’s Day together is now almost 20 feet tall, the lilac tree that I planted in memory of our child that was lost, the rock wall we built together on a sunny afternoon, these things cannot be packed. These remind me of the life and love we shared and can only be carried with me in my heart. The land, the house and the material things really don’t matter much in the long run. It was the life of the people and the animals that spent time in this place that I hold dear and I will carry them with me, they have shaped me and made me who I am today.

So I give thanks to the land, to Howard and all the animals that have shared my life, for allowing me to grow and flourish in a safe and supportive environment. I am grateful that I got to be part of it. Now it is time to spread my wings and leave the safety and comfort of this soft little nest and part of me is afraid that I will not be able to fly on my own. I know that letting go is a constantly recurring theme in life and if I hang on to old ways of thinking and being my wings will never develop enough to carry me. Today I will fly knowing that the universe will help me and guide me. The people I need in my life, the new lessons to be learned and the life I am destined for are already there waiting for me. I just have to go meet them with an open mind and wings strengthened by a wide open heart! So the next time someone asks me what my sign is I am going to say open!

Peace and love to all

Donna

 

 

Embracing the Pain

I blew the dust off of my yoga mat this morning and spent 30 minutes with some of my favourite poses. I forgot how soothing it was to spend time just breathing and moving my body. When I am struggling with something I have a tendency to do busy things like clean the bathroom or go for a long walk. This morning since my struggle was internal I decided to go inward and listen instead. What am I doing and why am I doing it? That is the question I asked myself this morning. Sometimes I don’t get any insightful answers, I am just left with more questions. Perhaps the answers are hidden in those questions. Then again, maybe sitting here with a cup of coffee and writing will illuminate those dark corners inside me that I have not been willing to fully shine a light on.

Bring on the light! Okay, where is it? No great moment of illumination has happened. Yoga reminded me that it takes time to work the stiffness out, just be in the moment and breathe, just be. How can I forget these things so quickly after I have learned them? I don’t like being in pain and as a typical human I just want the pain to stop and apply short term fixes looking for a long term solution. So I turn to one of the best things I have ever learned from Buddhist philosophy, embrace the pain. All the things I do for quick fixes only fan the flames of the fiery pain. Sit with it, befriend it, love that painful part of yourself, love yourself. The flames will burn, shape and reshape you and out of the ashes a new you is born. So tonight I will sit here and burn.

Well, yes, pain burns but at least it has heat. So I look for the positives in pain and to be honest I cannot even describe this pain. All I can tell you is that my soul is crying out for something so strongly that it feels as though I will cease to exist if I don’t find it. Pain, it is warm in my case, also reminds me that I can feel some wonderful emotions. Pain teaches me that I have a heart, I have more in common with others than differences, that I care for myself and others, I have the ability to love others unconditionally and pain reminds me that it is not always returned to me in kind. Okay, pain whether physical or emotional is my teacher. What exactly is this pain educating me on?

I just got to meet someone that I had previously only had contact with through writing and phone calls. Huge risk for both of us since we had an idea of who each other was but that first meeting always says so much. I recognized him instantly and walked towards him arms and heart wide open. First moment wasn’t so awkward phew. What a relief! We got to spend two days together. We ate, laughed a lot, walked, sat, talked and talked some more. We have huge differences in opinion on certain matters, but it doesn’t matter. We learned from and about one another. We learned. It was a beautiful two days and then it was back to our regular lives. I am changed forever because of meeting him. I am changed because by learning about him, I learned much about myself. Sometimes seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes can give you a new perspective. Arkemedes it was an honour to meet you my friend, I ask the universe to send you many blessings on your journey.

Now it is 6:30 at night and I am sitting here in my slightly soiled chair exploring my pain. We all have some pain in our lives and how we approach our own as well as the pain that others carry says much about us. Embrace the pain, yours and theirs. Compassion and love can heal the most damaged of us. We just need people in our lives who are willing to stand with us in the fire and bring their own pain with their arms and hearts open. We can bring great healing to others just by creating that space where we can support and acknowledge each other. No judgement, just space for healing from the pain.

Love yourself

Hug Everyone

Donna

 

To the Next Amazing Man

I have come to the conclusion that despite the fact that I am honest and outspoken I can be timid when it comes to asking for what I want. I think parts of my last post were bullshit and the universe with its grand sense of humour and timing challenged me on it. The vaginal angst part was true though lol. Some of you have sent me messages or phoned regarding that post and you made me think about things more deeply without bullshit clouding the issue.

What a wild ride the last year has been. Some people are surprised that I am doing so well at this point, especially if they have not seen me for four months. They never saw my knees hit the floor and my soul shatter, for the most part that was done in private. They did not see the rage and anger that whipped around my heart like a tornado. Most of what I went through, I went through alone. Yes there were people around me but they did not see what I did not want them to see. I have never heard the noises that came out of me in my grief, come out of another human being. I hope I never hear those heart rending noises again from anyone, ever. I don’t like to see anyone else in pain. That particular pain was so deep it changed me in ways I have yet to discover.

Here is a poem I wrote yesterday and I wasn’t sure what it was all about, now I know.

Winds howl
Lightening rends the night sky
Hair flying
Cold wet clothes burn
Arms raised
Gods, Goddesses challenged
Elements called
Power flows, thunder roars
Flung wildly
Across the land unprotected
Ravens cry
Trees bend from the force
Pain sorrow
Soul ripped apart

 

(I am not sure what the heck happened with the line spacing and I can’t seem to fix it so apologies if it is double spaced)

The pain I felt was like a primal force that changed me and shaped me. I know this woman but I do not recognize parts of her. Something in me was awakened by that experience and I will never view the world in the same way again. So me describing my idea of the perfect relationship was pure shit. That was my way of saying I was afraid to truly love someone because I did not ever want to deal with the pain again. If I can keep them at arms length and they leave or die it won’t hurt so much. Actually I think it might even hurt more because I would regret not loving them fully.

So I hereby give notice to the next amazing man that shares my life! I will not settle for less, nor should you. I am a wild, wonderful woman and I need you to stand toe to toe with me, beside me, in front of me and behind me. Love me fiercely like you mean it. Meet me with your heart wide open. Challenge me, fight for me (no violence of course, not that type of fighting), show no fear. Give thanks to the man I spent the last eleven years of my life with because his life and his love prepared me for you!

Amazing men do amazing things
Love to you all
Donna